As time passes and awareness increases, we’re slowly seeing a shift away from having to prove the existence of Parent Alienation or PA as a tactic of abuse and enforced parental estrangement enacted largely by resident parents. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that it’s a modern social disease and has been spreading fast.
The CEO of Cafcass has clearly and officially acknowledged its existence, as has Lord Justice Munby and many MPs.
So we now enter the “what to do about it” phase. That’s an even tougher task and one that alienated parents are understandably very impatient about given the extent of the abuse they and their children continue to suffer at the hands of self-centered people who clearly show nothing but contempt for shared parenting or the court.
While the anti-PA community has respect for the pioneering work of the more father-focused groups like F4J and FNF, established with a mandate focused on the woefully neglected area of father’s parental rights, we all recognise that PA, while mostly targeted at fathers, is not entirely gendered.
PA largely stems from the imbalance created when one parent, post separation, is empowered by being granted resident parent status (or simply takes it), dominates the finances and the children’s time and activities and then has both the power and opportunity to erase the other parent from the lives of the children.
Largely by manipulating the narrative, they literally re-program the children’s perceptions of the other parent in order to get them to reject them and to take everything for themselves.
The outcome, while convenient for the alienating parent, is severe psychological trauma for the children, damaging them for life and unimaginable suffering for the targeted parent and their extended family and new partner.
They are forced to face a living bereavement, are dangled on the end of an alienator’s puppet strings, enduring rolling grief with no idea if or when it will end given reunification can be the only antidote and that is the last thing the abuser will tolerate.
People find different ways to cope.
One is to reach out for support via social media, the online community, led by groups like FNF, the PNP movement of which we have been a pivotal part, NAAP, grandparents groups and committed individuals.
Some of the most vociferous include:
@fatherscontact; @sasquires3006; @JaneEjackson; @daddyduwsf; @DivorcePioneer; @JoJoWAR_DRUMMER ; @Bgrandparents; @Peace_not_PAS; @mick_ogden; @stopalienation.
The extended anti-PA network includes “woke” social workers, legal and reconciliation experts and offers invaluable and informed support for affected parents, children and extended families.
So please do follow them on twitter and join in the awareness-raising conversations and protesting online.
One of the parents who has been instrumental in striving for change, by continually challenging the institutions and organisations to address the out-dated leadership, processes and culture problems that are allowing PA to creep into the cracks between agencies, has been transformation consultant Ian Buckingham. He has featured here before in the ongoing Cafcass dialogue and change debate.
Ian champions the use of storytelling both at home and at work as a means of making sense of the challenges we face.
He reminds us that myths, legends and stories have long been the way of engaging with and educating children about the values and behaviours we hold dear; that life’s rocky road of adventure is never straightforward and that we need to be resolute in adversity and humble and balanced in moments of success.
Along with the business books, Ian has just published the first in a series of children’s fiction books. They are described as entertaining escapism, first and foremost, intended to entertain adults as much as children in the Blyton, Lewis or even Rowling tradition.
But as with the best children’s books, there is a clear moral undertone. Overcoming estrangement and adversity in order to forgive, re-focus and re-unify is the over-arching theme.
As you might expect, given they’re aimed at children 7-11 and young adults, the message is conveyed with the help of changeling children, mermaids, were-creatures, pirates, incredible magical items and a cast of thousands of animals who come together to save parts of the planet along the way.
If you are lucky enough to have anyone to read them to, or know a special young person who enjoys a cracking read and would benefit from a bit of escapism with an important message, then do grab a copy or two of Legend of the Lost, the first in the trilogy.
They are available online for orders now and will be in the shops the end of August.
As a special favour to our parent network however, Ian does have a limited number of advance copies of the first edition available. He will be happy to personalise a message for you/someone special.
If you know a special someone who will benefit from that sort of message in an uplifting tale of overcoming adversity and reunification , then contact him via the website related to the books.